Celebrations of H.P. Lovecraft—the master of weird fiction and favorite son of Rhode Island—are poised to take over the city this fall in the form of dramatizations and, delightfully, a new “institute of horror studies.” Much like the mysterious grey infection spreading across Ammi Pierce’s farm, Lovecraft-related commemorations seem to be growing exponentially.
From October 13-30, RadioTheatre will present its 8th Annual H.P. Lovecraft Festival at the Kraine Theater, featuring dramatizations of no less than eight works by Lovecraft ranging from fan favorites such as “The Call of Cthulhu” and “The Rats in the Walls,” to more obscure pieces like “The Beast in the Cave,” written when Lovecraft was just fourteen. RadioTheatre emphasizes that its Lovecraft adaptations are not “old timey radio shows” but a combination of storytelling, music, special effects, and visual elements.
“We also introduce each story with a bit of biographical background,” adds RadioTheater artistic director Dan Bianchi, “making the audience aware of Lovecraft’s life and inspirations. RadioTheatre isn’t a play or musical, or a story reading group…it’s a totally unique experience. The performances feature spooky lighting, fog, and lots of music and sound, which really helps to draw people in.”
According to Bianchi, while some attendees know Lovecraft’s tales from video games, role playing games, or films like the 1985 horror classic Re-Animator, many audience members—and even some of the actors—are coming in cold to the source material. “That doesn’t last long,” Bianchi says, touting his festival’s ability to create enthusiastic Lovecraft converts.
If an academic exploration of Lovecraft is more your speed, you may want to check out the fall offerings at the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, a nonprofit that aims to provide “university-level horror history and theory classes” concerning the Old Gent and his influence. Named for the fictional university that figures centrally in many of his tales (think Hogwarts, but for Lovecraft), Miskatonic will host lectures and classes featuring horror luminaries like Jack Ketchum and Dennis Paoli. (Though he is not at present scheduled to teach any classes, Peter Straub is also listed as an instructor on the institute website.)
The courses ($12 each) will explore everything from the challenge of adapting Lovecraft for the screen, to the intersection between horror and gay erotica. Classes, currently scheduled from late September to early December, will meet at the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Gowanus. Despite the grisly subject matter (and potentially disturbing host environs), a press announcement from the institute assures visitors that the classes are “for people of all ages.”
This New York incarnation of Miskatonic follows previous locations in Montreal (started in 2013) and London (2015). Though the institute’s presence will add to the slate of Lovecraft-themed miscellanea in the city this fall (there’s also a Lovecraft-themed bar in the East Village), fans and organizers don’t seem to feel they will approach a glut anytime soon.
Says RadioTheatre’s Dan Bianchi: “The more the merrier! Spread the word!”
That seems exactly what Lovecraft’s many evangelists are determined to do.